D.C. Mayor Gray signs to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana
(WJLA) - Under the new law, if you get busted in Washington, D.C. with what is considered a recreational amount of marijuana – one ounce – you’ll be hit with a mere $25 fine.
Prior to this, simple possession could land you in jail for six months.
"Yeah, this is a huge victory," says Bill Piper with the Drug Policy Alliance.
The Drug Policy Alliance is an organization that believes drug use should be treated as a health issue rather than a criminal justice issue. Piper points to a recent ACLU study showing that blacks and whites in D.C. use marijuana at nearly the same rate – but blacks are eight times more likely to get arrested.
"And the entire fight was about racial justice and reducing incarceration and ending the problem of thousands -- mostly young black men in D.C. -- not being able to get jobs because they have a conviction," explains Piper.
Keep in mind that the bill won’t become law until a 60-day congressional review passes. Members of Congress could block this legislation, but Piper doesn’t expect that.
D.C. residents we spoke with applauded the bill’s passage, saying that busting recreational pot smokers is an inefficient use of police resources.
"Get a bunch of people who have an arrest record, and now it's harder for them to get a job just because they got caught with a bag of weed as opposed to the tougher criminals out there doing serious crimes," said D.C. resident Mahdi Hemingway. "And I think it's a waste of the District's resources as well as police resources."
"Oh I think it should be legal, period," added Jeff Kibler. "We waste so much money in this country criminalizing it. Jails are full of people, we waste a lot of taxpayer dollars. It should be taxed."